Hey, no more slouching for you! At least not after you finish reading this blog. Your posture is more important than you might think. Correcting it can help prevent many chronic disorders of the neck, back and shoulders. It might be difficult to do so, especially if your bad posture has been developed due to years of leaning and hunching. But fret not, anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Remember that it’s beyond “looking good”. It’s about how your bad posture can deteriorate your health over time. Read further to know how you can fix all your posture problems.
What is posture?
Posture is the way we use our muscles to hold ourselves while sitting, standing or lying down. Without posture, we would just fall to the ground or even crawl on all fours. Your posture has been developed over years of unconscious conditioning. Muscles are just tuned to walk, lie down, and sit a certain way because of the way you have been doing so, over the course of your lifetime.
Bones, hamstrings, tissues and other back muscles are the main factors responsible for the posture you maintain. Posture is a result of the functioning of your musculoskeletal system.
It’s not just how you sit, it’s the way you move. It’s the dynamic development of habits and reflexes that you pick up over time. It can be affected by many things like age (senior citizens tend to hunch more), pregnancy (pregnant ladies tend to move around differently as they get accustomed to the extra weight), or the weight you carry (children with heavy backpacks tend to adjust and slouch to carry the weight).
Does it really matter?
Contrary to common belief, posture has a lot more effect on your body than just the way you look. Years of slouching, hunching and slumping can cause your knees and spine muscles to weaken and leave them more prone to injury and degeneration. These small problems can add up over your lifetime and cause more serious conditions in the long run.
Holding your neck and shoulders the wrong way for years often leads to major pain in these areas. This can cause reduced flexibility and mobility too. You may even start to experience weakness, mood swings, fatigue, fear, and stress.
Poor posture can restrict your ability to move about, leaving you more prone to falls. Bad posture can even hinder digestion, proper blood circulation and breathing. People with depression tend to have a more curved spine and slouching position.
If you’ve been wondering what the benefits of good posture may be, here they are:
• Helps reduce wear and tear of joints.
• Helps reduce the risk of arthritis.
• Helps prevent muscle strain or overexertion.
• Helps avoid fatigue and weakness, as the body is using less energy.
• Helps use muscles and joints the right way.
• Helps reduce neck, back, and shoulder pain.
How do you know if you have poor posture?
Poor posture refers to any position that you tend to sit, stand or lie down in that causes unnecessary strain to your body. It is usually a result of habitual conditioning.
5 common bad posture habits
1. The Donald Duck
The term “Donald Duck” is used to refer to the posture of people who tend to stick their bottom about. It makes you curve your lower back and can lead to a condition called hyperlordosis.
This excessive curving of the lower back can be caused by wearing heels, excessive weight around the stomach, pregnancy etc.
2. The Hunchback of ChairVille
Slouching while sitting down can be quite comfortable sometimes. Though it may not initially cause trouble, it can cause major strain in the future. It can seriously affect the soft muscles and tissues.
This position can be observed in people who bend over to read books or lie on their stomach while reading or using their laptops.
3. The Leaning Tower of Posture
This posture is most commonly seen in people who have to stand for long periods of time. People who do this tend to place more pressure on the lower back than the buttocks while standing. This can lead to lower back muscle strain and pelvic area pain in the future.
The major cause of this includes, carrying heavy backpacks on one shoulder, and is also seen in mothers who carry babies on one side of the hip.
4. Rockabye Phone
People who tend to use their phone a lot are the major victims of this problem. They tend to cradle their phone between their ears and shoulders. It places excessive strain on the neck, back, and shoulder.
Continuing with this position for a long period of time can cause an imbalance between the right and the left side of your neck.
5. Not-so-smart Neck
This posture is commonly seen in people who spend copious amounts of time bent over their keyboards and phones. People who have this problem, end up with upper back and shoulder pain. It can even cause rounded shoulders and back fat.
How to have good posture all the time
Quick Posture Test:
Stand with your back against the wall and your heels 6 inches from it. Your bottom and shoulders should align with the wall and the space between your neck and the wall should be lesser than 2 inches. If it is more it indicates that you tend to arch your head a lot leading to a curved spine and a bad posture.
Good Posture While Sitting:
When you are sitting down keep your head straight and do not lean to either side. Relax your shoulders and sit with your knees at a lower angle than your hips. Your feet should remain flat on the floor and don’t forget to use arm support while working.
Good Posture While Standing:
When you are standing, keep your shoulders back. Bend your knees slightly to reduce pressure on them. Use the support of your stomach muscles to help keep your body straight. Always try to keep your chest perpendicular to the ground.
Good Posture While Lying Down:
Use a hard mattress and minimal pillows to improve your posture while sleeping. This will help reduce curving of the spine. Don’t sleep on your stomach as it can cause unnecessary cervical pressure.
Alternative techniques for posture improvement
1. Mindfulness and Meditation
The most important step required to get a better posture is to be aware of it. Look at how you stand in a mirror and make it a mindful practice to correct yourself when you move with the wrong posture. Practice meditation with a straight back and with complete awareness of your body. This will help you gain better control of your muscles.
Yoga has become a common solution for people with neuro muscular skeletal and spinal disorders, including posture problems. It involves the integration of your mind, body, and soul. The physical positions, breathing, and relaxation techniques help improve your posture.
3. Workstation Adjustment:
This may not technically be an alternative treatment but it is definitely a good alternative. Adjust your office seat, desk and equipment to improve your posture. Also, remember to take walking breaks, and stretch from time to time to relieve muscle tension.
Is it too late to correct your posture?
In a word, no. Some posture problems may take longer to fix than others. If you follow the steps given above you will be able to put yourself on the path to perfect posture. Remember to practice and be constantly aware of the way you move till you get better. Let us know if these tips helped you and if you have any tips that we missed out on. Leave us your message in the comments below.